Stories of faith, life, and love

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When Truth Hides

background-2013633_960_720Truth is important, but sometimes it’s hard to find. We see polarizing stories on the news every day that threaten to tear our nations apart. Sometimes they even threaten to tear God’s people apart. But if we take a step back, we realize each side of these debates have often latched onto one small idea or event and run with it. Even our news sources have lost objectivity. It used to be “just the facts” and let the people decide. There is nothing objective about any news source today.

Each side twists and highlights the things that make them look better and the other side look like the devil himself. Each side has an agenda. The stories they cover, the issues they bring to light, may be important. People may need to know these things, but the way the stories are presented breeds hatred, discontent, and divisiveness. Each side claims truth. Each side has proof. Honestly, each side has people paid to make the “facts” work in their favor to push their agenda. That’s why each side can come up with data, polls, events, and numbers to back up their idea. If you know the right way to frame it, you can find information to back up anything you want. And that’s exactly what each side does.

But simple, honest truth being hard to find sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s not important. In fact, I think it makes it more important. No one understands this better than Sergeant Caleb Dockery in Her Place in Time by Stephenia H. McGee. When Lena shows up out of nowhere in the plantation house turned civil war hospital where he’s recuperating, Caleb doesn’t know what to think. She claims to be from the future. She claims to go back and forth between the two times by putting on a yellow dress. It makes no sense. She speaks in strange ways. Her manner and customs aren’t at all like ladies of his day. A lot of what she says and does is controversial and even scandalous, but is she really from the future? Her methods of nursing wounded soldiers lend credence to her claims. But she slips away unseen at times, and she’s admitted she doesn’t believe in the south’s cause in the war. Could she be a spy?

Even as Caleb wrestles with his doubts, he can’t deny he’s attracted to her, and she seems to be attracted to him as well. His doubts about her trustworthiness, her honesty, keep them at arm’s length. He can’t quite reconcile what she’s saying to be truth, and she won’t give her heart to someone who won’t trust her. What she’s saying seems impossible, too impossible to accept as truth. Besides, she’s still trying to figure out what is really going on and why it’s happening. The only question that remains for us is if either of them will find out the truth before they lose what God’s trying to give them forever. It all comes down to truth.

In an age where people try to dress lies and nuggets of truth as the complete truth, Christians are sheep in the midst of wolves. We need to take Jesus’ directive to “be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” to heart. We can be part of the problem or the solution. It’s easy in today’s social media crazed days to spout off about everything that irks us. Even in those of us who find loving people easier than others can find our patience and acceptance stretched to their limits. We preach the necessity of loving everyone but then demonize those on the opposite side of the situational fence. We read a simplified post that agrees with our view point and forward it to all our friends, expressing disgust at anyone who dares see things from a different perspective.  In essence we’ve been neither wise nor innocent, instead becoming one of the wolves.

If we are to be wise, we need to start being responsible with the truth. When we see issues dividing those around us, we need to take a step back. Believers can’t hide their heads in the sand. We can’t ignore the things going on around us, but we can make sure all we say, do, and post falls under the umbrella of love and truth. We need to go beyond sound bites of media and seek out all the information we can get before choosing to speak. We need to seek God’s will before we choose to make a move.

In seeking truth and God’s will on how to respond to that truth, we allow ourselves to become wise while staying innocent. We refuse to be part of the problem. We allow room for healing in places where divisiveness once reigned.

By the Book: Do you seek truth instead of giving in to a knee-jerk emotional reaction to what you see or read? Do you seek God’s wisdom and way before you decide what steps to take?

Treasure Hunts

eggsHiding Easter eggs well is an art form. Hiding spots must be chosen carefully, keeping several factors in mind. First is the location of the hunt. If it is rainy or cold, an indoor hunt may have to replace the traditional outdoor hunt. Age is also important. Hiding an egg in the branches of a tree is fine for an older child, but a toddler will never see it. The toddler sometimes misses the egg sitting in the open on the sidewalk. Another important factor is whether the hunt is for an individual child or a group. If it’s a group, you have to take care to hide the eggs evenly between the age appropriate hiding places and make sure older children know which ones to leave for little ones who move a slower and may not even understand the concept of hunting the eggs.

But once they get the concept, it’s so much fun to watch a child’s enthusiasm over the Easter egg hunt. You’d think someone hid gold rather than candy and hard boiled eggs! Of course, to a child, opening a plastic egg to find a favorite candy is a real treasure hunt worthy of all their excitement.

Kat Williams, from Callum’s Compass by Sara Foust, knows the feeling. When her friend Clayton passes away, he leaves her clues that start her on her own treasure hunt. Unlike egg hunts of childhood, this treasure hunt promises a big reward and lands Kat in more danger than she imagined possible. But she’s not alone in her hunt. Ryan Jenkins, a wildlife officer, reluctantly accepts his duty to help Kat in her position as a biologist doing research in the area. As they spend time together, Kat tells him of the treasure hunt, and he finds himself going along on the adventure.  All they have to do to find more rewarding treasures than they’d hoped is figure out each riddle of a clue and avoid dangers from both nature and the criminals who want to stop their treasure hunt permanently.

Most of us have outgrown Easter egg hunts, and hopefully, we won’t face a life or death treasure hunt like Kat any time soon.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t treasure for us to seek out. Colossians 2:3 tells us godly wisdom and knowledge are treasures. Several verses in Proverbs reinforce this idea. 2 Timothy tells us the gospel of Jesus is a treasure we are to guard through the Holy Spirit.  These are just some of the treasures God gives His children, and they are treasures that cannot be taken or destroyed.

By the Book: Scripture tells us what we treasure in our hearts is what comes out in our lives. Is your life showing the treasures of God or the treasures of this world?

For Every Action

Actions have consequences. It sounds like a “no duh” statement, but think about how much time we spend trying to convince ourselves they don’t. Hard lives and hours in the sun leave us wrinkled, but there’s always Botox. We like to eat what we want, when we want it, but we don’t like being fat. Enter the next miracle weight loss pill requiring no changes in diet or exercise. Maybe you’ll even have some liposuction. Got a quickie wedding when you were too wasted to realize what was going on? Get a quickie annulment and make it go away.  Break the law? Get yourself an expensive lawyer and get off scot-free.

Even our children are subjected to the mindset that says I can do what I want and not have to pay the price. Some young athletes don’t put the effort into their education that’s necessary to stay eligible to play. But if you’re a good enough athlete, that’s okay. You’ll miraculously pass anyway. A child misbehaves in class, and we let it slide because discipline is taboo. Instead, we reward behavior that should be seen as fundamentally right and then wonder why things go south when the rewards are cut off. Parents buy their children out of trouble instead of letting them feel the pain of their actions. We’ve even divorced them from damage to their reputations due to their choices. A person who cheats on things isn’t a cheater. The habit of lying doesn’t make you a liar, and a life of stealing doesn’t make you a thief. Those are just things we do. They don’t make us who we are, and it’s wrong to insinuate otherwise. We’re teaching them what we’ve been taught; what you do doesn’t matter because there are no lasting consequences.

Only there are consequences.  And those consequences can be far reaching. Psychologist Taylor Martin, the main character from Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley understands this well. Taylor not only teaches psychology, she puts it into practice as she helps law enforcement solve crimes through profiling. Taylor looks at the cause and effect relationship to determine how victims and perpetrators are related. What actions spurred on which reactions which in turn led to the crimes committed? Taylor puts the pieces together to find the unknown criminal.

The process becomes a matter of life and death for Taylor when a stalker’s obsession turns violent. Unmasking the criminal and making sense of how everything weaves into the history of her family is made harder when suspects’ actions muddy the waters. Scott, a former student, seems harmless enough, but early life choices led to alcoholism which in turn left him in vulnerable positions. He soon finds himself suspect number one in not only Taylor’s stalking case but murder as well.  Is Taylor’s gut reaction true or is it a set up? And if it is a set up where is the true danger hiding and why? Taylor struggles with lining up the correct actions and consequences in time to catch a killer and keep from becoming the victim of a murder herself.

A failure to correlate our actions to our consequences may not invite a murderer into our circle of acquaintances like it did for Taylor, but it can take us into places we don’t want to be both physically and spiritually. The Psalms and Proverbs are packed with warnings to make godly choices, and neither book shies away from the idea that choices have consequences. In fact, many times, David and Solomon were very firm and descriptive in their explanations of the results that follow poor choices.

One of results is the damage of our witness. We become associated with the choices we make.  In kindergarten at my children’s school, they had to memorize a verse that I hope has stuck with them as much as it has me. Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” It’s a truth even children can understand, but we can use it as a tool to measure our own grasp of actions and consequences. It’s as simple as asking ourselves one question. What did my actions today say about who I am?

By the Book: Think about some of the choices you’ve made in life. What were the consequences of those choices? What do your daily choices say about you? Is this what you want the world to see when they look at you?

© 2020 Heather Greer

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